Tura, July 15, 2017: As the state gears up for upcoming Assembly Elections 2017 with the political ambiance at an all time high and leaders trying their best to take up peoples’ interests, there is a region in Meghalaya that continues to be neglected and the pathetic plight of commuters in West Garo Hills is testimony of the same. An indicator of the poor living condition of rural people in West Garo Hills came to the fore after pictures of a road connecting various villages of Tikrikilla went viral on social media. These roads which also connect each other as well as connect to places like Damal Asim and Rangsaigre near Phulbari is the proverbial lifeline for those living in utter neglect in these villages.
The terrible condition of the road, most of which are the only sources of transportation for villagers, though common knowledge to the power echelons of the state, have not been acted upon despite many from MLAs from the same constituency have won through promises of development of these same roads.
The roads which are in complete shambles were identified as Koraibari to Rangsagre via Kentapara (about 15 kms), Gaguapara to Chamaguri (1 km) and Angaripara to Rongjigre, Kosak Rongbokgre (about 10 kms). These roads fall under PWD roads and lie in shambles.
A second group of roads, some which have had earthwork done and are in terrible state as well have been identified by locals as Chambakpara to Cheran Songma (15 kms), Bollonggitok to Dolwakgre (8 kms), Chambalgre to Cheran Songma via Doldengre (6 kms) and Bamundanga to Dajugre via Matramchigre, Renchigre and Cheran songma (about15 kms).
Local activist, Walseng N Sangma, who has been a frequent visitor to these areas as it is close by his place, felt it was neglect accumulated over the years which has led to the people of the area being deprived.
“This road is the lifeline of the people and the state of the road is such that even walking is hazardous. We have seen through the years how MLAs have come to these areas just prior to elections and won through their promises of ensuring a proper road for these villagers,” said Walseng.
The villagers, according to the activist had made various appeals and even met the Chief Engineer and the PWD minister, Martin Danggo over the matter.
“We met them all and were promised a fulfillment of our demands though after that there has been no movement at all to rectify the problem. Our local MLA (Michael T Sangma of Tikrikilla) too has not paid any kind of attention to the needs of the people despite being with the ruling party. Now only God knows as to when this road will be made proper,” said a group of Nokmas from the area.
Incidentally the affected road is one of the oldest in the entire Garo Hills region and was earlier a part of the Dadenggre constituency. However after delimitation, it came under Tikrikilla. The road had been constructed under former MLA, Late Sherjee M Sangma but lack of maintenance has meant that the sufferings of the people continued to grow.
“During the winter, the road is still negotiable. However during the monsoon, the situation becomes critical and even people movement becomes perilous. A section of the road is still intact, though most of the other sections have become hell on earth,” added Walseng.
The residents of the area however are not willing to give up.
“We will continue the fight to get a better road as it is our right. We will be holding a meeting very soon on this matter which will also be attended by other NGO members along with the peace forum wherein this is going to be the agenda of the meeting. We will not rest,” added the group of Nokmas.
“No one is bothered with the state of these roads or these people as they don’t have to use the road on a daily basis. Imagine the difficulties that people of these areas are facing in going to school, getting medical care or even walking. How can there be so much of neglect shown,” they further asked.